Monday, April 7, 2014

How's That Book Coming? And Other Annoying Questions Writers Get

The number one question writers get is "How's that book coming?" followed closely by "When can I buy it?" One that becomes old really quickly is, "Do I get a free signed copy?" Are you kidding me? After the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it? Do I get that root canal free? Or how about that shiny Mustang convertible, Mr. Salesman? Yea, don't ask for a signed copy, if you value your friendship with the writer in question. Not even jokingly.

After writing my first novel, and making the huge mistake of telling people I did, I started getting Annoying Questions Writers Get. This book, as well as its ripple effects, has been hanging over me since it's conception... many years before I actually wrote it. I realized too late that the process takes longer than I thought. You can imagine how tired I am of hearing "How's the book coming?"

This is why writers think of their novels as their 'babies'. It takes so long to write, beta, revise, beta again, revise again, query, stop, query again, find an agent, and all the magic (more of the same, really) that happens to get the book published, that it feels like labor. Yes, a labor of love. You better love that sucker for it to consume so much of your time and energy!

Before that labor, you carry your 'book baby', and all the ideas that spawned it, around in your head, getting swollen creative ankles. You make notes in tiny notebooks, study people too closely, make playlists, pause at a descriptive passage in a book to mentally stow it away, stalk the internet (research), get hand cramps from typing late into the night, read writing books and blogs, and generally seem far away a lot of the time. That's because you're working on your book. Always working on your book. Until the thing is sitting on a library or bookstore shelf somewhere with your name embossed lovingly upon its cover, you will be working on your book. - And after that, you'll be working on another book. Because that's what writers do.

I learned pretty quickly to abbreviate and, in some cases, completely leave out key elements of my book when asked "What's it about?" by certain people.You have to know your audience, and most people politely asking about my book wouldn't be interested in a young adult Victorian fantasy novel, whether or not it has a boogeyman in it. (I save that part for the children who are as fascinated with spooky things as I am.) They aren't my readers, but they inevitably will ask the question "What's it about?" So, the best thing is just not to mention it at all.

Until it's published.

I've decided the very best time to tell strangers (or even friends or family, in some cases) you've written a book is when it has a release date already set. Then you can proudly announce, "I wrote a book! It's coming out in ___!" This would solve that pesky problem of "When's it coming out?" (another Annoying Question) as well as "What's it about?" because by then you've rattled elevator pitches and synopsis so often and in so many ways that you could tell them in your sleep.

So, to answer some of the Annoying Questions Writers Get, brevity is key.

Q. How's the book coming?
A. Great!

Q. When can I buy it?
A. When it comes out.

Q. Do I get a free signed copy?
A. *withering look*

Q. What's it about?
A. *insert shortest possible description here, depending on your audience*

This is a bit of fun I've had addressing the Annoying Questions Writers Get. A lot of it is tongue-in-cheek and meant to be humorous. Have you gotten some annoying questions? Share them in the comments!

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